RUSK, TX (KTRE) - The Rusk Eagles are looking to be this year's 'Cinderella' in the Texas High School Football Playoffs.
The team is currently 4-1 as they prepare for a tough match up with 5-0 Madisonville this Friday night. The winning ways of this years team is new to all of the players. This is the second year for head coach Jowell Hancock. The Jacksonville native joined the Eagles after a successful turn around in Dayton.
Last year, the team went 4-7. Two of the wins came against district foes Diboll and Huntington. This year's team is already set to surpass last year's performance.
"We tell our kids it is one game at a time," Hancock said. "It is keeping your mind on your business and you don't settle for anything. The recipe is all the same. it is based on the kids. we find what they can do and we hold them accountable."
Many of the players on the team spent their junior high years watching a program struggle to win games. The team has only made it out of the bi-district round 6 times and twice out of the area round. The teams last winning record 2006. The last time the team made the playoffs in back-to-back years was in 2005-06.
"We all made a commitment that it is our senior year and we are going to go win every game," senior running back Sam Thomas said. "I'm ready to set the tone and smash everybody that is in our way."
The players say they don't dwell on the negative and only focus on the positive.
"We are going to practice as hard as we have been practicing," senior offensive lineman Travis Pepin said. "Nothing will change. We just go to keep rolling."
The team's only blemish came against state ranked Malakoff by 2 points. This teams said they are proving they belong.
"[The Teams] remember the things in the past," Pepin said. "They don't expect to see the things they see when we get on the field."
The players like being the underdog.
"Teams are going to underestimate us and we are going to come out and prove them wrong," senior defensive back Anthony Hunter Jr. said.
Rusk will play Madisonville at home this week for homecoming before opening up 8-4A DII play on October 13 against Jasper.